- Mexico's Drug Murders Down 15-20% [FOX]
- Pot-Smoking Moms Tired of Being Judged by Wine Drinkers [MSNBC]
- Longtime American Fugitive is Arrested [New York Times]
- Marijuana Fields In Sierra Nevada Linked To Rare Wildlife Deaths [Huffington Post]
- Cory Booker Slams Drug War [US News & World Report]
- Mason High School Drug Bust: Teen Charged With Leading Marijuana Ring [ABC]
- Duran Duran's Days of Sex & Drugs [Huffington Post]
Late last week, Oregon joined Washington and Colorado on the list of states whose voters will have the chance to legalize marijuana in November. If they pass Measure 80, Oregonians could be purchasing pot legally as soon as January 1. But public opinion is split: a survey last month found that 43% of respondents in the state believed pot should be legalized, while 46% wanted it to remain illegal. Recent polls show higher support in the other two states: 50% in Washington and 61% in Colorado.
Advocates remain hopeful, but these numbers may still not be high enough—history shows that with marijuana reform laws, momentum is generally lost during campaigns, rather than gained. "A betting person might make a bet strongly that none of these are going to succeed, that they're all going to fail within very, very high pluralities," Allen St. Pierre, executive director of pot advocacy group NORML, tells The Fix. "But certainly, NORML is very hopeful that one of these is going to get into the majority, which will then set up a tremendous conflict with the federal government that will hopefully resolve itself, as it usually does, in favor of the state rather than the federal government." Should marijuana be legalized in any of these states come November, they will be in violation of federal and international law, so the better solution may be to go through the court system. "The argument is made here, that this ought to be a nation-wide reform, and have Congress—from our biased-point of view—fix the problem it started in 1937 by making marijuana illegal and having it go from the top down," says St. Pierre.
Regardless of the outcome this fall, St. Pierre sees the legalization of marijuana as a fait accompli—it's just that it may take years to get there. “It’s pretty clear that this issue is not going away for some years to come because of the public opinion swinging so quickly in favor,” he tells us. Projections estimate that at the current rate of movement, public approval for legalizing marijuana may not reach a crucial majority until 2021. However, "At some point, another state will take another bite of the apple and somebody will eventually get a majority.” This fall, Montana and Nebraska are also considering legalization initiatives, and Massachusetts will have medical marijuana on the ballot. Advocates have a long road ahead no matter what the outcome, but feel that getting these initiatives on the ballots is a good start. “There is a schism between the federal and state governments and the more and the more these states keep either passing voter initiatives or legislation," St. Pierre argues. "It’s only going to create greater friction with the federal government, agitating them towards some degree of reform."
That shrinking violet Marilyn Manson continues living up to his outlandish reputation—now claiming that drugs and booze are the reason his body is healthy and germ-free. In a new interview with the Observer magazine, the 43-year-old discusses insecurities, drug and alcohol use, romantic relationships and even potential fatherhood. According to Manson, he's so proud of being a "demented genius" that he may be ready to start a family with girlfriend Lindsay Usich, so that their little one can "set fire and breathe profanity." He's even more inflammatory regarding his seemingly clean health, for which he credits years spent using drugs and alcohol. "My body is a place where drugs and alcohol have made germs afraid to live," he claims. "I have no health problems to speak of, touch wood." The eccentric singer has famously experimented and written songs about illegal substances, such as "Dope Show" and "I Don't Like the Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)." He also disputes the accuracy of his reputation as a fetish-crazed sex maniac: "I think I would laugh nervously in the face of a threesome," he says. "I'm shy. I'm the kind of person who turns the lights out."
How do you test for a drug with an ever-changing chemical composition? That's what Dr. Harry Leider, Chief Medical Officer of testing company Ameritox, is trying to figure out. His target? “Bath salts”—the drug type that made a big splash with the story of Florida's "causeway cannibal." (Although we've since learnt that the face-eater wasn't on bath salts, the task remains tricky.) “Legal highs” are sold in little packets labeled “bath salts” or “plant food,” but don't try to use it as either of those—the only active ingredients are synthetic cathinones, chemically synthesized drugs meant to mimic the effects of methamphetamine.
Testing (and making laws) for bath salts is a game of chemical cat-and-mouse. The problem is, according to Dr. Leider, that they aren't that difficult to synthesize or modify for anyone who has some knowledge of chemistry, and these “street chemists” stay one step ahead of lawmakers and enforcers simple by shifting the elements in the compounds a little. Despite the challenge, Dr. Leider is fighting to keep bath salt detection on pace with street chemists' modifications via a two-pronged approach: “We have a couple different methods—actually buy the substances and develop technology to detect them as they emerge, which is a hard thing to do,” he explains to The Fix, “and another way is our specialty lab where, with the size and scope of Ameritox, we test thousands of specimens a day from doctors.”
“It's like a battle,” Dr. Leider tells us. But it's a battle he thinks can be won with a “concerted effort on multiple levels”: the DEA, doctors and insurance companies. The DEA, he says, needs a faster way to outlaw drugs by class, rather than by substance. As of now the agency is behind Dr. Leider's labs—Ameritox tests for eight different strains of bath salts, but the DEA has only declared three of them illegal. Doctors must also be trained to identify patients suffering from bath salts' side effects and be able to report if there's an outbreak in the area. And insurance companies must also be encouraged to foot the bill for drug screenings. Last, but not least, is educating the public about the dangers of bath salts. “It's a real dangerous category of drugs—potency varies from packet to packet and it's not regulated in any way,” says Dr. Leider. “Many people think because something is legal, it's safer.”
The Fix’s unique-in-the-industry Rehab Review added reviews of four new treatment centers today, including an Internet-, video-game- and tech-addiction rehab in Washington state called reSTART—a first for The Fix in this emerging treatment category. The other three newly reviewed facilities are The Florida House Experience (FHE), in Deerfield Beach, Fla., a “non-enabling” rehab where residents live with roommates in their own apartments, cooking meals for themselves and keeping house; Burning Tree, a two-location Texas facility which specializes in treating chronic relapsers for an average of eight months to one year at a stretch; and The Treatment Center, in Lake Worth, Fla., a four-star facility which offers a standard 12-step program in addition to their optional “Road Less Traveled” Christian rehab track.
The Fix’s Rehab Reviews are written using the real-life experiences of individuals who have gotten clean and sober at these facilities. Dozens of alumni shared their experiences, good and bad, at the centers in question, allowing us to write our substantive insider reviews. And these four new treatment centers, all of which garnered three or four “overall” stars, provide a good mix of options. Most importantly, they work—according to graduates of each. “Burning Tree was one of the hardest things I've ever completed and certainly the most rewarding,” says one alumnus of that facility. An FHE grad tells us, “I would not be who I am today—mentally, physically and spiritually—without the experiences and knowledge I gained at the Florida House.”
Have you been to rehab? The Fix wants to know how it went. Click here to complete a Rehab Review survey for the treatment center you attended.
Jason Kidd has probably seen better weekends. The NBA star was arrested for DWI yesterday morning after crashing his car into a telephone pole in Southampton, NY. No one else was in the car at the time. Kidd was reported as being visibly intoxicated when he was taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries. After being released, he was transported to the local police station for processing and later released on his recognizance after being arranged for his misdemeanor charge. His attorney, Ed Burke Jr., said that Kidd was returning from a charity function and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Although DWI charges carry a potential one-year jail sentence, it's highly unlikely he will serve any jail time. However, this isn't the first time Kidd has been in trouble with the law—in 2001, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge after admitting that he hit his former wife. There's no word as to how the recent arrest will affect his three-year, $9.5 million contract with the New York Knicks, signed just two weeks ago. Just before his arrest Kidd publicly spoke about how he looks forward to mentoring the Knicks' star point guard, Jeremy Lin. "My job is to make Jeremy better," he said. Whether Lin stays with the Knicks is open to doubt, however—as is Kidd's suitability for the mentor role.